Testimony has finally concluded in the nation’s second trial involving Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer and its alleged potential to cause non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and other cancers
If jurors in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, decide that Monsanto is liable for the plaintiff’s illness, he could be awarded millions of dollars in damages.
Edwin Hardeman, 77, used Monsanto Roundup for nearly 30 years as a home gardener before learning he had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2015. The California resident claims glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, caused his cancer.
Last week, the jury hearing Hardeman’s lawsuit agreed that the herbicide was a “substantial factor” in his lymphoma . That decision allowed the Roundup cancer trial to move into its second phase, which focused on liability.
If the jury finds that Roundup was defectively designed and that Monsanto failed to warn consumers about its potential risks, they can award Hardeman both compensatory and punitive damages.
The first phase of the Hardeman Roundup trial focused solely on science. During the second phase, however, his attorneys were allowed to present internal company documents that suggested Monsanto manipulated the science surrounding glyphosate, as well as the regulatory agencies that reviewed its safety.
On Tuesday, one of Hardeman’s lawyer urged jurors to send Monsanto a message, asserting its conduct was reckless and offensive.
“This company for the last 40 years manipulated science, manipulated public opinion,” she said.
In spite of numerous studies lining glyphosate to cancer, “they kept selling Roundup and making money off it because that’s the bottom line for Monsanto,” the attorney continued.
“Nothing has stopped this company… your job is to say ‘No more, it stops today,'” she concluded.
Monsanto Roundup is the most popular weed killer in the world. But in March 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) declared glyphosate a probable carcinogen, after an independent review linked occupational exposure to an increased risk of cancer, especially non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and its various subtypes.
Bayer, which recently completed its acquisition of Monsanto, is facing more than 11,200 Roundup cancer lawsuits in courts throughout the United States.
The nation’s first Monsanto Roundup trial concluded last August, when a San Francisco Superior Court jury awarded $289 million to a former California groundskeeper with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. However, the presiding judge later cut the massive verdict to $78 million to comply with California limits on punitive damages.
Bayer’s stock was down 38% as of March 20th, largely due to the massive Roundup cancer litigation.
According to The Washington Post, one analyst recently estimated that the German company could face over $5 billion in legal costs and plaintiff payouts in connection with the Monsanto acquisition. Apparently, that would rank among the largest ever by a company facing damage claims brought on behalf of by private individuals.
Bayer is looking at several more Roundup cancer trials this year, including a case set to begin in May in Oakland, California. Another is scheduled to go before a jury this summer in St. Louis, Missouri, where Monsanto is headquartered.